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Topics - Afroza Akhter Tina

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The title of my Exchange Program was 'Navigating Intercultural Communication for Online English Language Teaching and Hosting Virtual English Language Fellow Exchanges'. It was a two-week professional development program at the University of Central Florida followed by a week-long program organized in conjunction with the 2023 TESOL International Convention. The duration of the program was from 3 to 25 March 2023. The entire program was sponsored by the U.S.Department of State and FHI 360. It was a wonderful program where 25 participants from 21 countries got the opportunity to explore and learn from each other. The program was developed in Canvas which helped and guided us throughout the journey. The final project of preparing posters was the major focus which revealed the key take away of each of the participants. My presentation on the 2nd part of the program at the largest English Language Teachers' Gathering was one of the best experiences in my life. Thank you.

Afroza Akhter Tina
Senior Lecturer, Department of English &
Assistant Proctor, Daffodil International University

The title of my Exchange Program was 'Navigating Intercultural Communication for Online English Language Teaching and Hosting Virtual English Language Fellow Exchanges'. It was a two-week professional development program at the University of Central Florida followed by a week-long program organized in conjunction with the 2023 TESOL International Convention. The duration of the program was from 3 to 25 March 2023. The entire program was sponsored by the U.S.Department of State and FHI 360. It was a wonderful program where 25 participants from 21 countries got the opportunity to explore and learn from each other. The program was developed in Canvas which helped and guided us throughout the journey. The final project of preparing posters was the major focus which revealed the key take away of each of the participants. My presentation on the 2nd part of the program at the largest English Language Teachers' Gathering was one of the best experiences in my life. Thank you.

Afroza Akhter Tina
Senior Lecturer, Department of English &
Assistant Proctor, Daffodil International University

Discourse Analysis / Discourse Analysis—What Speakers Do in Conversation
« on: December 23, 2021, 03:10:53 PM »
Discourse analysis is sometimes defined as the analysis of language 'beyond the sentence'. This contrasts with types of analysis more typical of modern linguistics, which are chiefly concerned with the study of grammar: the study of smaller bits of language, such as sounds (phonetics and phonology), parts of words (morphology), meaning (semantics), and the order of words in sentences (syntax). Discourse analysts study larger chunks of language as they flow together.

Some discourse analysts consider the larger discourse context in order to understand how it affects the meaning of the sentence. For example, Charles Fillmore points out that two sentences taken together as a single discourse can have meanings different from each one taken separately. To illustrate, he asks you to imagine two independent signs at a swimming pool: "Please use the toilet, not the pool," says one. The other announces, "Pool for members only." If you regard each sign independently, they seem quite reasonable. But taking them together as a single discourse makes you go back and revise your interpretation of the first sentence after you've read the second.

Discourse and Frames
'Reframing' is a way to talk about going back and re-interpreting the meaning of the first sentence. Frame analysis is a type of discourse analysis that asks, What activity are speakers engaged in when they say this? What do they think they are doing by talking in this way at this time? Consider how hard it is to make sense of what you are hearing or reading if you don't know who's talking or what the general topic is. When you read a newspaper, you need to know whether you are reading a news story, an editorial, or an advertisement in order to properly interpret the text you are reading. Years ago, when Orson Welles' radio play "The War of the Worlds" was broadcast, some listeners who tuned in late panicked, thinking they were hearing the actual end of the world. They mistook the frame for news instead of drama.

Conversation is an enterprise in which one person speaks, and another listens. Discourse analysts who study conversation note that speakers have systems for determining when one person's turn is over and the next person's turn begins. This exchange of turns or 'floors' is signaled by such linguistic means as intonation, pausing, and phrasing. Some people await a clear pause before beginning to speak, but others assume that 'winding down' is an invitation to someone else to take the floor. When speakers have different assumptions about how turn exchanges are signaled, they may inadvertently interrupt or feel interrupted. On the other hand, speakers also frequently take the floor even though they know the other speaker has not invited them to do so.

Listenership too may be signaled in different ways. Some people expect frequent nodding as well as listener feedback such as 'mhm', 'uhuh', and 'yeah'. Less of this than you expect can create the impression that someone is not listening; more than you expect can give the impression that you are being rushed along. For some, eye contact is expected nearly continually; for others, it should only be intermittent. The type of listener response you get can change how you speak: If someone seems uninterested or uncomprehending (whether or not they truly are), you may slow down, repeat, or overexplain, giving the impression you are 'talking down.' Frederick Erickson has shown that this can occur in conversations between black and white speakers, because of different habits with regard to showing listenership.

Discourse Markers
'Discourse markers' is the term linguists give to the little words like 'well', 'oh', 'but', and 'and' that break our speech up into parts and show the relation between parts. 'Oh' prepares the hearer for a surprising or just-remembered item, and 'but' indicates that sentence to follow is in opposition to the one before. However, these markers don't necessarily mean what the dictionary says they mean. Some people use 'and' just to start a new thought, and some people put 'but' at the end of their sentences, as a way of trailing off gently. Realizing that these words can function as discourse markers is important to prevent the frustration that can be experienced if you expect every word to have its dictionary meaning every time it's used.

Speech Acts
Speech act analysis asks not what form the utterance takes but what it does. Saying "I now pronounce you man and wife" enacts a marriage. Studying speech acts such as complimenting allows discourse analysts to ask what counts as a compliment, who gives compliments to whom, and what other function they can serve. For example, linguists have observed that women are more likely both to give compliments and to get them. There are also cultural differences; in India, politeness requires that if someone compliments one of your possessions, you should offer to give the item as a gift, so complimenting can be a way of asking for things. An Indian woman who had just met her son's American wife was shocked to hear her new daughter-in-law praise her beautiful saris. She commented, "What kind of girl did he marry? She wants everything!" By comparing how people in different cultures use language, discourse analysts hope to make a contribution to improving cross-cultural understanding.

by Deborah Tannen


Afroza Akhter Tina
Senior Lecturer,Department of English
Daffodil International University

Speaking Skill / Practicing Speaking through stories
« on: October 02, 2021, 12:45:04 PM »
Please find the link of an interesting article which demonstrates practicing speaking skills through story telling:

Afroza Akhter Tina
Senior Lecturer
Department of English, DIU

Curriculum & Material Design / An article on post covid challenges
« on: October 02, 2021, 12:42:33 PM »
An interesting article to focus on the post covid era challenges:

Afroza Akhter Tina
Senior Lecturer
Department of English, DIU

The key difference between traditional grammar and modern linguistics is that the traditional grammar is prescriptive whereas the modern linguistics is descriptive.

Traditional grammar and modern linguistics are two branches of language studies. Traditional grammar is the oldest of the two, and its origin runs back to the 15th century. Linguistics is a relatively new branch of language study. Furthermore, it is also important to note that traditional grammar mainly focuses on the written language while modern linguistics consider speech as the basic form of language.

Afroza Akhter Tina
Senior Lecturer
Department of English, DIU

As a PhD Examiner,Prof Bill Buchanan’s top 25 Tips for PhD students:

I have done many MSc/PhD examinations, and I enjoy them so much. With PhD theses I especially like seeing the face of the candidate when I take the thesis out of my bag, and you can’t see the thesis for Post-it notes. This should hopefully show that I’ve read every single word in it, and, hopefully, understood most of it.
So here’s my top Ten 25 hints on how to help your examiner (many of these should also be relevant to MSc thesis’ too — to a student aiming at a 1st class Hons dissertation):

1.   Say up-front what the problem is, what other people have done, and how you have added to it. The Introduction chapter is the most important chapter of all, and you need to grab the reader and tell them what the problem is, and how you have solved it. If the examiner understands the thesis after the Introduction, you are halfway there. I’ve read a few theses where I had no idea what the point was until I reached the end, and the contribution was revealed on the last page. This is a major gamble, as some readers may give up before that point, and not know the end contribution. Be fair on the reader and tell them the contribution up-front, and keep telling them.

2.   Get rid of those typos! You wouldn’t believe the number of PhD theses I have read that has a typo in the very first line of the thesis. A reader becomes annoyed if they have to keep correcting typos, and the more annoyed the reader, the more time they are taking away from actually reading the content. Try and start off on a good footing, so that the Abstract and Introduction have been read over several times — typically by talking them out loud. If possible get someone else to read the Introduction, and see if they understand what the point of work is.

3.   Bad grammar could show bad practice and weak supervision. Part of doing a PhD is learning how to write and present ideas, and how to review and edit. One of the most important things that you learn in a PhD is how to write — so that others can understand your ideas. A good part of this is for supervisors to get involved in reading the work, and in giving detailed feedback. It is often a good idea for supervisors to mark up early drafts with a red pen so that the student gets an idea about the amount of checking and editing that is often required.

4.   Superlatives are not very good! A PhD is a scientific study, and the usage of superlatives should be avoided, along with weak words like “big” … “the measure gives a very big number”. If a number is large, define what large actually means, as everything is relative.

5.   Significance matters. I’ve read theses that draw a graph, and then give me values of 10 decimal places, and then to be told that there is an importance of one thing to another. But is it significant? If I move from 100.01254632 to 100.1263241, is that a massive change and why do we need so many decimal places? Every measurement has an accuracy, and this should always be included in the presentation of the values. Examiners want to know the significance of something, and if it isn’t significant, then just tell them.

6.   One table says much more than a whole lot of numbers. Again I’ve read so many theses’, where the writer continually presents a whole series of numbers and graphs, and where they could all be moved into an appendix, and compiled into a single table (or graph). A good supervisor should be able to spot how to collapse lots series of tables into a single one, as they often have to do it for papers. Many students rely on drawing graphics for presenting trends whereas tables are often better, especially in defining changes within the figures presented. A great tip is to normalise values and show how the values vary between each other. Relative values are often easier to understand than absolute ones — remember too that most values have units, and that units matter. I’ve quizzed many students on whether they are talking about Mbps or MBps — there’s a difference of eight in there!

7.   Draw some pictures. There is no place for trivial graphics and clip art in a PhD thesis, but there is a place for the abstraction of complex ideas, especially in the introduction. There no real need to just copy the graphics from others, as they should come from the ideas inspired by the writer. I’ve read quite a few theses, where the text just goes on and on. Break the text up every now and then, and give the reader something to ponder over.

8.   Break up and but keep a narrative. There’s a careful balance here. If you keep your sections short, it becomes to “bitty”, and if you make them too long, they become long and unwieldy. I personally read whole sections in a single sitting, and try and take in the ideas, and I won’t move on until I understand it. A long section, especially where there are no sub-sections, often introduces too many concepts which can make it difficult to read. I normally recommend a maximum of a page and a half of text before there should be a break (such as a sub-section break). Long paragraphs are not a good thing as it becomes difficult to take in all the concepts introduced. Try, if possible, not to make them too short, but not too long. A paragraph that goes on for half a page is probably too long, and one that has only two sentences is probably too short. Also try and avoid too many sub-sub sections, as it becomes difficult for the reader to put it all into context.

9.   Avoid using the words of others too much. A thesis is written by the writer, and it is their words. A long series of indented text items of quoted material becomes fairly generic, where you get little of the sense of the thoughts of the writer. If you must reference others, pull it out, and indent.

10.   Be precise. A PhD thesis should be a scientific document which abides to certain standards for the articulation of ideas. It is always sloppy to see a candidate writing 9*6³, where the “*” is a sloppy way of writing a multiply symbol (x) and ^ should be “to the power off”. If it’s an equation, it should be pulled out of the text, and a proper equation editor should be used, with a proper numbering system for the equation.

11.   Every diagram and table should be referenced in the text. I have read many theses’ (typically drafts) where the writer just assumes that the reader knows how a diagram or table should integrate with the narrative. Every figure and table should thus be referenced in the text, so that the reader knows when to look at it. If possible don’t break up your narrative with a diagram, and move it a little later on, as long as it is after then text which is referring to it. Don’t ever put a diagram in the text before it is actually referred to, as the reader is left confused as to why the diagram is there.

12.   Be critical of yourself and others. One of the key things within a PhD is the ability to critically appraise the work of others, both for the strengths and weaknesses of their work, and also of the candidate’s work. I often circle the first signs of critical thought in a thesis. If it happens on Page 50, there’s a problem in not being able to critically appraise work. Along with this, some candidates can think that everything is perfect with their work, and that it addresses every single problem in their field. Try to always define both the strengths and weaknesses your own work, and identify how these could be improved. The scope of the impact should never be overestimated, but also not underestimated. If you’ve developed something that completely changed something, be up-front and tell the reader. Most of the time, though, be honest any say that you are just enhancing something a little bit.

13.   A thesis is not a diary! I have read so many theses’ which are basically just a chronological flow of their research. You can often spot this as the literature review runs out of references which are up-to-date. I have read several theses’ where the latest reference in the literature review is two years ago, and it points to the fact that it has not been updated since it was initially written. A literature review should be written for the thesis, and many parts of the original literature can be dumped, and replaced with newer references which fit in with the contribution.

14.   Focus the literature review on the contribution. One literature review of PhD thesis I read was almost 200 pages long, and my head was spinning at the end of it. It covered so many points, and few of them actually went anywhere in the following chapters. Try and focus the literature review on covering the 4 or 5 key concepts involved in the thesis, and not in the research project. A good supervisor can often spot redundant sections, and advice for them to be cut. If the thesis is still the same by taking something out, there’s no need for it to be there, as every paragraph and every word should count, and be carefully crafted as part of the whole story.

15.   Make sure the aim is “of the thesis, and not “of the initial research project”. Many theses’ start with “The aim of this research project is …” which often is a sign that the original project aim has not changed in the writing of the thesis. Overall the aim is the aim of the thesis, as the research project has finished. Every thesis should be written from a point-of-view that the work has finished, and this is the write-up.

16.   Get the flow right. A strong flow of literature, method, build and evaluation helps the flow of the thesis, and where you often see references to literature tailing off as the thesis develops. I’ve seen some thesis’ where there are whole chapters that lack any form of reference to other work. This is poor practice, as a PhD thesis should show how every aspect of the work fits in with the work of others. I like to see a reference to other work in the introduction of a chapter, as it shows some key influences for the work. I personally don’t like an introduction that says “Section 1 says this, and Section 2 says that, and Section 3 says something else”, as I can see from the table of contents what the contents are. If possible the writer should tell the reader what is likely to be revealed and what the significance is. A re-enforcement of the main drivers of the work also helps to bring the focus onto the main contribution of the work. It must be remembered that most thesis’ get read in chunks, and where a reader might return after a few weeks to read the next chapter, so it helps to re-enforce the general aim of the work.

17.   If you don’t know it … don’t say it! This one seems so obvious, but you won’t believe the number of times that you ask in a Viva about the detail of a paper, and the method used, and for the answer to be that they don’t actually know what it does. You always increase your exposure to probing if you include things you don’t quite understand, so dump them (if they are not a core topic).

18.   Explain it simply. There’s nothing nicer for an examiner when the candidate takes a complex idea and gives their own viewpoint on it, in a simple way, using new material. It shows that they can articulate complex ideas in a simple way. The standard test for any thesis is that a 14-year old child should, at least, be able to read it, and understand some of the key concepts in it.

19.   Show that you love the subject and that it is relevant. Three years is a long time, but the sustainment of interest is a key part of the work, so try and show that this is an important topic and that your thesis is exactly what is required, and in the impact that it could have. Again the Introduction chapter is a great place to grab the reader and show how important the work is. If possible try and find something that has just happened in the news in the introduction that shows how important your work is. The Introduction chapter, at least, should be readable by all, and where, at the end of it, most readers would want to read on, as it sounds so interesting.

20.   Make your thesis a sandwich. With a good thesis, we open with the Introduction and close on the Conclusions. The bit in-between justifies what you have opened with and the conclusions should show what you have uncovered to justify your argument. The same goes for each chapter, where the introduction (half a page, typically) shows what you’re going to tell them, and the conclusion confirms it. Do not make conclusion into a summary, as the reader has no time to read summaries, and just wants you to conclude the most important things that go forward (and so they can dump all the other things that you covered). If possible say why you are not taking some things forward in the conclusions (and justify using the work of others, if possible).

21.   Don’t just pick without reviewing and justifying. There is no justification in a thesis for picking something just because it is easy to get. If possible all the things that are selected have at least been reviewed, and a sensible solution is selected (and justified). Try always to select a few competing methods and tools and put them against each other.

22.   Validate before Evaluate. You won’t believe the number of Vivas that I’ve done where I’ve asked if they validated their system or software before they went onto evaluating it. So “How do you confirm that it takes 5 milliseconds to get from here to there?, the wrong answer is “… because the package said it was 5 milliseconds”. Good experimenters will do “fag packet” calculations, to estimate things and know the limits of what they expect. I always like to see validation tests within the test data, so that the researcher knows that their system is working correctly. There’s nothing worse in finding there is a bug in your results after you have published them … so always have a sanity check.

23.   Get that scientific method. There are so many occasions in a thesis where you have no idea what a graph is telling you, as the axis’ are not numbered properly, or where they are poorly scaled. If the variation is between 990 and 1000, don’t draw a graph which goes from 0 to 1000. Work out what the graph is trying to say, and pick the graph type (eg pie chart to show the significance of one method against another) to show this.

24.   Must be based on a method and be repeatable. There must be a method in the processes used, and designed in a scientific way. Along with this, the thesis should outline the procedure in a repeatable way, so that someone else can perform the same evaluation and get the same results. So candidates should always say to themselves… “Is there enough information for someone to build the artefact?”, “Is there enough information to repeat the experiment?”, and “Do I have the data that the examiner can look at, in order to verify the evaluation?”

25.   Evaluate your method against others. The standard method to show a contribution is to take your method and evaluate it against other competing methods. The best approach is to use the best competing method and show an improvement. This can sometimes be difficult, so, at least, there is an evaluation against other methods. Showing an improvement is obviously a good thing, but there is often nothing wrong with an evaluation which shows a negative impact, especially if it is backed-up with a strong critical appraisal.

Oh, I stuck to 25, but there’s a few more:
1.   Be fair and honest with your experiments. Often an experimental procedure is selected to benefit your own method. If possible be fair on all the methods and do not bias your approach to your one. It does no harm to show weaknesses and downsides to your own contribution, as it gives you a chance to critically appraise and show how future work could improve things. Your experimental procedure and the associated data collection should be repeatable and verifiable, so don’t delete that data you have gathered.
2.   If possible, know your examination team. While the thesis should stand-alone you should also know your examination team before the Viva, so avoid patronising them with background theory which they know inside-out, or provide some background which might help the examiners to understand the area. Often an examiner, as part of the Viva, will give advice on moving things between the core material and appendices, in order to address the target audience for the thesis.
3.   Show that you are now an expert in your area. People expect those with a PhD to be an expert in the area of study, so make sure you know your core principles in the subject area. If you are doing a cryptography PhD read around the subject, and know the core principles of the most important methods. For me, anyone doing a PhD in electrical engineering, for example, should know Ohms Law, and the same should go for other subjects.
4.   Use appendices. Many PhD theses’ are full of material that is irrelevant to many of the key arguments, and writers are often too sensitive about removing material. If you can, put unrelated material in an appendix, and just refer to it. As a measure, if any material doesn’t help your core arguments, then remove it, as you are wasting the reader’s time.
5.   Quality is better than quantity. Some of the best thesis’ I read have been relatively short and sharp, but where the quality is high. A good eye for moving material in appendices is important and helps the examiner. For some reason, candidates like to produce a thick thesis, and they think that the more pages there, the better the material. This is often the opposite, and a thesis written with self-contained papers for chapters — which link together — are often the best in their presentation.
6.   Define published work. A key part of PhD study is the dissemination of the work, especially with peer-reviewed. The examiner often needs to know what has been published.
7.   Watch those unreliable references. In a PhD thesis, the references should be credible and verifiable references, and references to industry-focused white papers or general Web pages cannot be trusted providing credible viewpoints.
8.   Look for small-scale to large-scale experiments. A good researcher will often start small scale and prove the principle, and then look for a large-scale experiment. The sign of small experiments, along with a large-scale experiment which properly evaluates the methods presented, is a good sign of a strong research ethos.
9.   Leave the Introduction and Conclusions to last, and then do the Abstract, and finally the title. You will know the full scope of you work once you have done the main chapters, so leave the Introduction and Conclusions to the end, and writing them together, with an opening statement and a concluding answer. The abstract then distills the whole of the thesis and pick a title that then reflects this (and that you are happy with).
10.   Few abstracts are actually any good in the first draft. For some reason, most PhD students struggle to write an abstract, and often it is written more as an introduction rather than a distilled version of the thesis. Remember that the abstract is the first thing that the reader reads, so if it is not focused on presenting the whole of the thesis, you have missed an opportunity to get the reader on your side. If possible an abstract should be a page in length, and outline the problem, the contribution, the most significant methods, the thing that has been designed/modelled, what has been evaluated, and what the most significant result is.
11.   Conclusions should conclude the whole thesis. Often the thesis just verifies aims and shows the significance of the results, but it should also recap the key parts of the literature and the other chapters.
12.   Mind those commas. Commas seem to be a dying breed but are there to help speak directly to the reader. Try and read out loud, and if there’s a slight pause, add a comma.
13.   End on a high! Don’t spoil your thesis, by adding another chapter after the main contribution. Leave the reader on a high, and get them into the Conclusions, and leave the stage. I’ve read a few theses’ where the last chapter is a real let-down and contributes very little to the overall focus of the work. If you want, put your lovely new models in an appendix, and refer them in the main chapters, but try and finish the main chapters with the answer to the question posed at the start. The last dot of the last main chapter cements the argument, so don’t run on into something else that you just happens to be which you are currently looking at, as just feel your thesis isn’t thick enough yet!
14.   Signpost your work. Remember the thicker the thesis, the longer it takes to read, and if it doesn’t get to the point, the more annoyed the reader becomes in actually showing how you have addressed the problem and your main contribution. The more focused the thesis, the shorter time it will take to understand it, and the happier the examiner will be when they are reading it. Add pointers to “wake up” the reader and tell them that they really should read this bit … as I’m telling you something important.
15.   Guide but stay on the academic track. Guide them through difficult areas, and allow them to learn from your love of the topic and your new insights, but stick to well-defined academic principles for writing a thesis … such as not adding your own opinions in literature review parts. Leave your thoughts for the conclusion section with a chapter. Try not to hint that you’ve solved every problem in the area, and rely on showing your contribution on the back of others, including within the main conclusions.
16.   Be humble. Show that you are humble in your writing and respect (and know) the most important people in your area (including your external examiner), and that you want to be an active part of your community, and help them. The PhD is not an end-stop, but shows how you will work in the future … either in academia or industry. So just because you are off to a job in industry, doesn’t mean that your research career ends at the graduation … you have standards and methods to set for others to follow.
In the Viva:
1.   Be ready to defend, up to a point. You are unlikely to ever win with a debate with the External Examiner, as they typically have the experience to know when they are right. The Examiner does want to see you putting up arguments against theirs, and not bend. A strategy is often to debate the case, and try different routes of explanation, but then to take on their advice for any changes that would be required.
2.   Draw it out and keep it simple. Drawing diagrams and abstracting is a great way to explain your ideas, so wherever possible try to draw an abstraction to show a key point. Try not to over complex things, as they examiner is often looking for you to article complex ideas in a simple and understandable way.
3.   The simplest things are often the most difficult to explain. Many candidates go into a Viva thinking they will get probed on the complex areas of their work, but end up having to justify an extremely simple concept, that they have taken for granted. An examiner can often spot a weakness in some fundamental areas and probe around that, in order to see how the candidate thinks through a problem. So candidates should also try and be well versed on the fundamentals areas, especially when it involves maths.
4.   Know your examiners. Every examiner is different, and they have their own style. Some go from page to page, others read generally around significant parts of the work. They will generally have expertise in certain areas, so try and understand their motivations in their research, and some of their specialities, as they are likely to draw on these for questions.
5.   Don’t leave it too long for the Viva. The best time for a Viva is straight after you’ve written your thesis, so try and don’t leave it too long for the Viva, as you will forget a few things.
6.   Stay calm and enjoy. It is your opportunity to lock horns with an expert in their field, so enjoy it, as you’ll probably never have the chance to do something like this in your career.
7.   Be humble. See above!
A PhD is a long road, and you learn along that road. The end result should setup you up for the even longer road ahead, but you now have all the tools to be ready for a career in research. None of us truly knows the formula for a successful PhD, but the methods applied by examiners and supervisors have stood the test of time, and do actually result in something that can contribute to the body of science. Remember that you are:
Standing on the shoulders of giants
a key thing is knowing whose shoulders you are standing on, and help the others who could stand on your shoulders. Enjoy your time!
And finally…
For a bit of advice, have a look at Ralph Merkle’s time. He invented key exchange while an undergraduate, but his professor rejected his ideas because he didn’t articulate them properly, and Ralph then tried to publish a paper on it, but it was rejected because he had no literature in the paper
So, try and write well … and perfect the art of speaking directly to the reader, and also follow the rules of research that have been laid down over the centuries, and you are half way there

Afroza Akhter Tina
Senior Lecturer
Department of English, DIU

Applied Linguistics & ELT / 7 Ideas for Fabulous Lesson Warm Ups
« on: December 05, 2019, 10:38:12 AM »
1. Make it a Habit
One really great way to start a lesson is with a single activity you can establish as a habit for every lesson that follows. For example, with my youngest learners, we always started each and every lesson with a song – the same song for an entire semester, then we switched and learned a different one. It was our way of greeting each other, and it marked the official start of the lesson. Needless to say, young children thrive on habits and routines, and it’s really helpful to have solid routines in place!

For older ESL students, you may also choose one activity with which to start the lesson. Start the day with a “What’s New?” segment. Ask adult ESL learners to share a piece of news they’ve heard over the weekend. Or start each class with a different Tongue Twister to loosen up those lazy tongues.

2. Make it Visual
What will you be talking about in the day’s lesson? The seasons and the weather? Start the class by introducing the topic with a picture, photo or even a video. Warm ups are great ways to get students to start thinking about the day’s topic.

3. Make it a Review
Did your class learn a bunch of new words last time? Vocabulary related to health? Show photos of sick people and describe their symptoms; have your students diagnose the patients.

4. Make it a Game
Who says you can’t start the lesson with a game? Games are great ways to review what students learned in previous lessons, plus they’re highly effective for getting students motivated from the get-go. Play a card game to review vocabulary or a verb ping pong, where one student says a verb and another has to say it in past (or use it in a specific tense). Because we’re talking about warm ups here, I recommend that you keep it short – just a 5 or 10-minute activity.

5. Make it Active
Does it make sense to get your class out of their seats just seconds after they sit down? Absolutely! Everyone understands the importance of a warm up before physical activity, and even though learning English is not a physical activity per se, it’s always a good idea to get hearts pumping and students stretching their muscles to prepare for a lesson filled with activity. Warm ups that involve a TPR (Total Physical Response) set the tone, and students know what to expect from the lesson, or at the very least they know what not to expect: to be sitting for the duration of the class.

6. Make it Conversational
In far too many cases, students enter the ESL classroom and immediately open a book. Why not start with a speaking activity? Present a discussion topic, a conversation starter or an ice breaker – anything to get them speaking!

7. Make it Specific
Say you’ve planned your lesson with a specific goal in mind, like “Making plans with friends”. Another great warm-up activity is to introduce the topic and have the class define a more specific, targeted goal. So towards the end of the warm up, their new lesson goal will be something like, “Making plans to go out with friends on Friday night”. You’ll carry out all of the activities as planned (no need to change your lesson plan), but your students will know that by the end of the lesson they’ll be able to do this. (And it’s a good idea to close the lesson with a role play that confirms the achievement of the goal.)

Afroza Akhter Tina
Senior Lecturer
Department of English, DIU

English Grammar / Linking verbs, helping verbs, and action verbs
« on: September 16, 2019, 12:38:31 PM »
Linking verbs link the subject and the subject's state of being; helping verbs help the main verb in the sentence; action verbs express physical and/or mental action.


Afroza Akhter Tina
Senior Lecturer
Department of English, DIU

English Language Skills / Games to learn American English
« on: September 16, 2019, 12:32:26 PM »
Please go through the link below and get ideas regarding using games in the class to learn English.

Afroza Akhter Tina
Senior Lecturer
Department of English, DIU

Reading Skill / How to Improve Reading Comprehension
« on: March 25, 2019, 02:32:09 PM »

Reading is a skill many people take for granted, but the act of reading and properly comprehending a text is a complex and interactive process. It requires several different brain functions to work together and most often requires one to puzzle through multiple layers of context and meaning.
Because reading comprehension is so complicated, we can often find ourselves understanding the most basic interpretation of a text, but missing the emotional core or the “big picture.” Or we might just find our brains spinning with no clue at all as to what a text is attempting to convey.
But luckily for everyone who struggles in English classes, on standardized tests, or in daily life, reading comprehension can be improved upon (and it’s never too late to start!). In this guide, I explain step-by-step how to improve reading comprehension over time and offer tips for boosting your understanding as you read.
What is Reading Comprehension?
Reading comprehension is the understanding of what a particular text means and the ideas the author is attempting to convey, both textual and subtextual. In order to read any text, your brain must process not only the literal words of the piece, but also their relationship with one another, the context behind the words, how subtle language and vocabulary usage can impact emotion and meaning behind the text, and how the text comes together as a larger, coherent whole.
For instance, let's look at the first line from Jane Austen's novel, Pride and Prejudice:
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
Now, a completely literal interpretation of the text, just based on word-meaning, would have us believe that 'all rich men want wives.' But the context, word choice, and phrasing of the text actually belie that interpretation. By using the phrases "universally acknowledged" and "must be in want of" (emphasis ours), the text is conveying a subtle sarcasm to the words. Instead of it being an actual truth that 'rich men want wives,' this one sentence instantly tells us that we're reading about a society preoccupied with marriage, while also implying that the opening statement is something people in that society may believe, but that isn't necessarily true.
In just a few short words, Austen conveys several ideas to the reader about one of the main themes of the story, the setting, and what the culture and people are like. And she does so all the while seeming to contradict the literal words of the piece.
Without practice in reading comprehension, nuances like these can become lost. And so it can happen that someone may find themselves reading, but not truly comprehending the full meaning of a text.
As you can see, reading comprehension involves many processes happening in your brain at once, and thus it can be easy for some aspects of a text to get lost in the muddle. But the good news for anyone who struggles is that reading comprehension is a skill just like any other. It must be learned through practice, focus, and diligence, but it absolutely CAN be learned.
Why Reading Comprehension is Important?
Proper reading comprehension can be difficult, so why bother? Even though learning how to properly read and comprehend texts is a complicated process, it is a necessary skill to master, both for work and for pleasure.
You will need to know how to read and interpret all kinds of different texts—both on the basic, literal level and on a more in-depth level—throughout your schooling, in college, and in the working world (as well as in your recreation time!). If we think about "reading" just as a literal or surface understanding of a piece and "reading comprehension" as the complete understanding, a person can only get by in the world on pure "reading" for so long.
Reading comprehension is essential for many significant aspects of daily life, such as:
•   Reading, understanding, and analyzing literature in your English classes
•   Reading and understanding texts from your other class subjects, such as history, math, or science
•   Doing well on both the written and math sections of the SAT (or all five sections of the ACT)
•   Understanding and engaging with current events presented in written form, such as news reports
•   Properly understanding and responding to any and all other workplace correspondence, such as essays, reports, memos, and analyses
•   Simply taking pleasure in written work on your own leisure time
Just like with any goal or skill, we can master reading comprehension one step at a time.
How to Improve Reading Comprehension: 3 Steps
Because reading comprehension is a skill that improves like any other, you can improve your understanding with practice and a game plan.
Dedicate yourself to engaging in a combination of both "guided" and "relaxed" reading practice for at least two to three hours a week. Guided practice will involve structure and focused attention, like learning new vocabulary words and testing yourself on them, while relaxed practice will involve merely letting yourself read and enjoy reading without pressure for at least one to two hours a week. (Note: if you already read for pleasure, add at least one more hour of pleasure-reading per week.)
By combining reading-for-studying and reading-for-pleasure, you'll be able to improve your reading skill without relegating reading time to the realm of "work" alone. Reading is a huge part of our daily lives, and improving your comprehension should never come at the cost of depriving yourself of the pleasure of the activity.
So what are some of the first steps for improving your reading comprehension level?
Step 1: Understand and Reevaluate How You’re Currently Reading
Before you can improve your reading comprehension, you must first understand how you’re currently reading and what your limitations are.
Start by selecting excerpts from different texts with which you are unfamiliar—text books, essays, novels, news reports, or any kind of text you feel you particularly struggle to understand—and read them as you would normally. As you read, see if you can notice when your attention, energy, or comprehension of the material begins to flag.
If your comprehension or concentration tends to lag after a period of time, start to slowly build up your stamina. For instance, if you continually lose focus at the 20 minute mark every time you read, acknowledge this and push yourself to slowly increase that time, rather than trying to sit and concentrate on reading for an hour or two at a stretch. Begin by reading for your maximum amount of focused time (in this case, twenty minutes), then give yourself a break. Next time, try for 22 minutes. Once you've mastered that, try for 25 and see if you can still maintain focus. If you can, then try for thirty.
If you find that your concentration or comprehension starts to lag again, take a step back on your timing before pushing yourself for more. Improvement comes with time, and it'll only cause frustration if you try to rush it all at once.
Alternatively, you may find that your issues with reading comprehension have less to do with the time spent reading than with the source material itself. Perhaps you struggle to comprehend the essential elements of a text, the context of a piece, character arcs or motivation, books or textbooks with densely packed information, or material that is heavily symbolic. If this is the case, then be sure to follow the tips below to improve these areas of reading comprehension weakness.
Improving your reading comprehension level takes time and practice, but understanding where your strengths and weaknesses stand now is the first step towards progress.
Step 2: Improve Your Vocabulary
Reading and comprehension rely on a combination of vocabulary, context, and the interaction of words. So you must be able to understand each moving piece before you can understand the text as a whole.
If you struggle to understand specific vocabulary, it's sometimes possible to pick up meaning through context clues (how the words are used in the sentence or in the passage), but it’s always a good idea to look up the definitions of words with which you aren't familiar. As you read, make sure to keep a running list of words you don't readily recognize and make yourself a set of flashcards with the words and their definitions. Dedicate fifteen minutes two or three times a week to and quizzing yourself on your vocab flashcards.
To get started, you'll need some blank index cards and a system to keep them organized. These basic cards are an affordable option that are also available in fun colors. You can keep them organized with plastic baggies or rubber bands, or you can get an organizer. Alternatively, try these easy-flip flashcards that include binder clips. Though we strongly recommend making your own flashcards, you can also buy pre-made ones —the best option is Barron's 1100 Words You Need to Know, a series of exercises to master key words and idioms.
In order to retain your vocabulary knowledge, you must practice a combination of practiced memorization (like studying your flashcards) and make a point of using these new words in your verbal and written communication. Guided vocabulary practice like this will give you access to new words and their meanings as well as allow you to properly retain them.
Step 3: Read for Pleasure
The best way to improve your reading comprehension level is through practice. And the best way to practice is to have fun with it!
Make reading a fun activity, at least on occasion, rather than a constant chore. This will motivate you to engage with the text and embrace the activity as part of your daily life (rather than just your study/work life). As you practice and truly engage with your reading material, improvement will come naturally.
Begin by reading texts that are slightly below your age and grade level (especially if reading is frustrating or difficult for you). This will take pressure off of you and allow you to relax and enjoy the story. Here are some fun, easy reads that we recommend to get you started:
•   Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roksani Chokshi
•   Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
•   Ghost by Jason Reynolds
•   The Westing Game by Ellen Rankin
•   From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
•   The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
•   I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
•   Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K .Rowling
Once you feel more comfortable reading and practicing your comprehension strategies (tips in the next section), go ahead and allow yourself to read at whatever reading or age level you feel like. Even if  you feel that you don't understand some of the text right now—or even a large portion of it!—if you enjoy yourself and give it your best shot, you'll find that your reading comprehension levels will improve over time.

Afroza Akhter Tina
Senior Lecturer
Department of English, DIU

ELT / Product–based communicative language teaching approaches
« on: February 13, 2019, 12:35:28 PM »
Product – based communicative language teaching approaches

These days demand for communicative language teaching is relatively very high. This increased demand put pressure on educators to change their teaching methods. In this article, we will examine two approaches, which focus more on the outcomes or products of learning as the starting point in course design than on classroom processes. They start by identifying the kinds of uses of language the learner is expected to be able to master at the end of a given period of instruction. Teaching strategies are then selected to help achieve these goals.

Text-Based Instruction

Text-based instruction, also known as a genre-based approach, sees communicative competence as involving the mastery of different types of texts. Text here is used in a special sense to refer to structured sequences of language that are used in specific contexts in specific ways. For example, in the course of a day, a speaker of English may use spoken English in many different ways, including the following: −

Casual conversational exchange with a friend

Conversational exchange with a stranger in an elevator

Telephone call to arrange an appointment at a hair salon 

An account to friends of an unusual experience

Discussion of a personal problem with a friend to seek advice.

Each of these uses of language can be regarded as a text in that it exists as a unified whole with a beginning, middle, and end, it confirms to norms of organization and content, and it draws on appropriate grammar and vocabulary. Communicative competence thus involves being able to use different kinds of spoken and written texts in the specific contexts of their use.
Providing students with guided practice as they develop language skills for meaningful communication through whole texts. According to this view, learners in different contexts have to master the use of the text types occurring most frequently in specific contexts. These contexts might include: studying in an English-medium university, studying in an English-medium primary or secondary school, working in a restaurant, office, or store, socializing with neighbors in a housing complex.

Contents of a Text-Based Syllabus

As its name implies, the core units of planning in TBI are text types. These are identified through needs analysis and through the analysis of language as it is used in different settings (text-based teaching thus has much in common with an ESP approach to language teaching, discussed above). However the syllabus also usually specifies other components of texts, such as grammar, vocabulary, topics, and functions; hence, it is a type of mixed syllabus, one which integrates reading, writing, and oral communication, and which teaches grammar through the mastery of texts rather than in isolation. Texts, which combine one or more of these text types, Recounts Narratives Opinion texts Expositions Discussions. A text-based approach has been adopted in Singapore and forms the framework for the 2002 syllabus for primary and secondary schools. In the Singapore context, the text types that are identified can be understood as forming the communicative building blocks Singapore children need in order to perform in an English-medium school setting. The Singapore syllabus also identifies the grammatical items that are needed in order to master different text types.

While implementing a Text-Based Approach students:

Are introduced to the social context of an authentic model of the text type being studied 
Explore features of the general cultural context in which the text type is used and the social purposes the text type achieves
Explore the immediate context of situation by investigating the register of a model text which has been selected on the basis of the course objectives and learner need. An exploration of register involves:
1.Build knowledge of the topic of the model text and knowledge of the social activity in which the text is used, e.g., job seeking
2.Understand the roles and relationships of the people using the text and how these are established and maintained, e.g., the relationship between a job seeker and a prospective employer
3.Understand the channel of communication being used, e.g., using the telephone, speaking face-to-face with members of an interview panel

Context-building activities include:

Present the context through pictures, audiovisual materials, realia
Establish the social purpose through discussions or surveys, etc.
Cross-cultural activities, such as comparing differences in the use of the text in two cultures
Compare the model text with other texts of the same or a contrasting type, e.g., comparing a job interview with a complex spoken exchange involving close friends, a work colleague or a stranger in a service encounter.

After all these have been done, students will have to do independent construction of the text. Here students work independently with the text. Independent construction activities include: Listening tasks, e.g., comprehension activities in response to live or recorded material, such as performing a task, sequencing pictures, numbering, ticking or underlining material on a worksheet, answering questions.

Listening and speaking tasks, e.g., role plays, simulated or authentic dialogs. Speaking tasks, e.g., spoken presentation to class, community organization, or workplace. Reading tasks, e.g., comprehension activities in response to written material such as performing a task, sequencing pictures, numbering, ticking or underlining material on a worksheet, answering questions. Writing tasks which demand that students draft and present whole texts.

There are also some problems with implementing a Text-Based Approach.

As can be seen from the above summary, a text-based approach focuses on the products of learning rather than the processes involved. Critics have pointed out that an emphasis on individual creativity and personal expression is missing from the TBI model, which is heavily wedded to a methodology based on the study of model texts and the creation of texts based on models. Likewise, critics point out that there is a danger that the approach becomes repetitive and boring over time since approaches described above applied to the teaching of all four skills.

Competency-Based Instruction

Competency-based instruction is an approach to the planning and delivery of courses that has been in widespread use since the 1970s. The application of its principles to language teaching is called competency-based language teaching (CBLT) — an approach that has been widely used as the basis for the design of work-related and survival-oriented language teaching programs for adults. It seeks to teach students the basic skills they need in order to prepare them for situations they commonly encounter in everyday life. Recently, competency- based frameworks have become adopted in many countries, particularly for vocational and technical education. They are also increasingly being adopted in national language curriculum, as has happened recently in countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

What characterizes a competency-based approach is the focus on the outcomes of learning as the driving force of teaching and the curriculum. Auerbach (1986) identifies eight features involved in the implementation of CBLT programs in language teaching:
1.A focus on successful functioning in society. The goal is to enable students to become autonomous individuals capable of coping with the demands of the world.
2.A focus on life skills. Rather than teaching language in isolation, CBLT teaches language as a function of communication about concrete tasks. Students are taught just those language forms/ skills required by the situations in which they will function. These forms are normally determined by needs analysis.
3.Task- or performance-oriented instruction. What counts is what students can do as a result of instruction. The emphasis is on overt behaviors rather than on knowledge or the ability to talk about language and skills.
4.Modularized instruction. Language learning is broken down into meaningful chunks. Objectives are broken into narrowly focused sub objectives so that both teachers and students can get a clear sense of progress.
5.Outcomes are made explicit. Outcomes are public knowledge, known and agreed upon by both learner and teacher. They are specified in terms of behavioral objectives so that students know what behaviors are expected of them.
6.Continuous and ongoing assessment. Students are pre-tested to determine what skills they lack and post-tested after instruction on that skill. If they do not achieve the desired level of mastery, they continue to work on the objective and are retested.
7.Demonstrated mastery of performance objectives. Rather than the traditional paper-and-pencil tests, assessment is based on the ability to demonstrate prespecified behaviors.
8.Individualized, student-centered instruction. In content, level, and pace, objectives are defined in terms of individual needs; prior learning and achievement are taken into account in developing curricula. Instruction is not time-based; students’ progress at their own rates and concentrate on just those areas in which they lack competence.

There are two things to note about competency-based instruction. First, it seeks to build more accountability into education by describing what a course of instruction seeks to accomplish. Secondly, it shifts attention away from methodology or classroom processes, to learning outcomes. In a sense, one can say that with this approach it doesn’t matter what methodology is employed as long as it delivers the learning outcomes.

Implementing a Competency-Based Approach

As we saw above, CBLT is often used in programs that focus on learners with very specific language needs. In such cases, rather than seeking to teach general English, the focus is on the specific language skills needed to function in a specific context. This is similar to an ESP approach and to some versions of a task-based approach. The starting point in course planning is therefore an identification of the tasks the learner will need to carry out within a specific setting (e.g., in the role of factory worker, restaurant employee, or nurse) and the language demands of those tasks. The competencies needed for successful task performance are then identified and used as the basis for course planning. For example, part of a specification of competencies for a job training course includes the following:

The student will be able to:

− Identify different kinds of jobs using simple help-wanted ads
− Describe personal work experience and skills − Demonstrate ability to fill out a simple job application with assistance
− Produce required forms of identification for employment
 − Identify Social Security, income tax deductions, and tax forms
− Demonstrate understanding of employment expectations, rules, regulations, and safety
− Demonstrate understanding of basic instructions and ask for clarification on the job
− Demonstrate appropriate treatment of co-workers (politeness and respect).

Critics of CBLT have argued that this approach looks easier and neater than it is. They point out that analyzing situations into tasks and underlying competencies is not always feasible or possible, and that often little more than intuition is involved. They also suggest that this is a reductionist approach. Language learning is reduced to a set of lists and such things as thinking skills are ignored.

The link:

Afroza Akhter Tina
Senior Lecturer
Department of English, DIU

Pragmatics / What is pragmatics?
« on: October 27, 2018, 01:42:48 PM »
 What is pragmatics?

"We human beings are odd compared with our nearest animal relatives. Unlike them, we can say what we want, when we want. All normal humans can produce and understand any number of new words and sentences. Humans use the multiple options of language often without thinking. But blindly, they sometimes fall into its traps. They are like spiders who exploit their webs, but themselves get caught in the sticky strands"  Jean Aitchison

“Pragmatics studies the factors that govern our choice of language in social interaction and the effects of our choice on others.” David Crystal

 “Pragmatics is a way of investigating how sense can be made of certain texts even when, from a semantic viewpoint, the text seems to be either incomplete or to have a different meaning to what is really intended. Consider a sign seen in a children's wear shop window: "Baby Sale - lots of bargains". We know without asking that there are no babies are for sale - that what is for sale are items used for babies. Pragmatics allows us to investigate how this "meaning beyond the words" can be understood without ambiguity. The extra meaning is there, not because of the semantic aspects of the words themselves, but because we share certain contextual knowledge with the writer or speaker of the text.  Pragmatics is an important area of study for your course. A simplified way of thinking about pragmatics is to recognise, for example, that language needs to be kept interesting - a speaker or writer does not want to bore a listener or reader, for example, by being over-long or tedious. So, humans strive to find linguistic means to make a text, perhaps, shorter, more interesting, more relevant, more purposeful or more personal. Pragmatics allows this.”  Steve Campsall

Afroza Akhter Tina
Senior Lecturer
Department of English, DIU

The examples below are shared by some of the finalists of this year’s ELTons awards:

Blended learning

As teachers combine digital media with more traditional forms of teaching, their course materials and resources reflect the trend. The Combined Pre-Sessional Course offered by King’s English Language Centre (King’s College London) combines face-to-face teaching and online lessons. For teachers who want to pepper their everyday teaching with practical online activities, Lindsay Clandfield and Jill Hadfield’s Interaction Online - creative activities for blended learning emphasises the interaction between teachers and learners.

Mobile learning

Online resources are more accessible with a mobile app or a mobile-friendly version. Wordable (Playlingo Ltd. with Cambridge University Press) turns vocabulary-learning into a fun, competitive game you could play with your friends. It has built-in, spaced repetition and active-recall learning to make new words stick.

Essential English (Oxford University Press) uses mobile technology to provide free resources for teachers and students, including flashcards, phrasebooks, lesson plans and activities. Meanwhile, Tri Pro English Website and Mobile Apps helps learners to practise their listening through free, high-quality recordings divided into levels and coupled with comprehension questions.


Appealing to football-lovers, LearnMatch (VE Vision Education GmbH) uses training sessions, friendly matches, leagues and cup games to make vocabulary learning fun for young learners. Get Set, Go! Phonics (Oxford University Press) uses chants, songs and games to help develop pre-school children’s phonological awareness.

On an even more immersive scale, Learn Languages with Ruby Rei (Wibbu) plunges the learners into an interactive adventure game. They have to use their language skills to negotiate, collaborate and build friendships in order to escape from a forgotten planet at the edge of the universe. Any learning that takes place is incidental.

Embodied learning

Embodied learning is based on the idea that learning is not just about remembering. It involves using the mind and the body, collaborating, discussing and exploring. Learners need to be emotionally, intellectually, physically and socially engaged.

Courses such as Doodle Town (Macmillan Education) use visual, audio and hands-on activities to stimulate and inspire learning, getting young learners to draw, create, and be inquisitive. Orbit (Richmond) develops the young learners’ socio-emotional and cognitive skills through a language course that follows the story of a ferret and children who go on adventures in multicultural environments.

Inquiry-based learning (or: 'learning in a complex world')

The scenarios that teachers come across in some course materials can seem simplified and unrealistic, leading us to wonder if we are adequately training our learners for real life in the 21st century.

Courses like Fast Track 5 (EF Education First Ltd) and Wider World (Pearson with the BBC) use authentic video and audio content to bring the real world to teenage learners. They encourage teenagers to practise the soft skills and communication skills needed to take part in the global communities of the 21st century. Aimed at the adult learner, Perspectives (National Geographic) uses real-life stories and TED talks to motivate learners to think critically and creatively.

Danny Norrington-Davies’s Teaching Grammar: From Rules to Reasons (Pavilion Publishing) is an alternative approach to teaching grammar. Teachers and learners discover how writers and speakers use grammar to express themselves in real life. Hugh Dellar and Andrew Walkley’s Teaching Lexically (Delta Publishing) combines the teaching of grammar and lexis for more effective classroom practice, rather than over-simplifying language into a more traditional ‘grammar + words’ view.

English as a lingua franca (ELF)

When the concept of English as a lingua franca was first discussed by teachers, academics, writers and trainers, it was controversial. Many refused to consider how the concept of English as an international language might fit into course materials and language teaching. Today, we see resource materials like PronPack 1-4 (Mark Hancock) taking a non-prescriptive approach to accent and instead focusing on increased intelligibility as the objective. Using elements of blended learning and gamification, this pronunciation course doesn’t help the learner sound British or American, but instead prepares the learner to use English in the global arena.

Multi-literacies and trans-languaging

In global communities where English is a common language of communication alongside other languages, knowledge of other languages is an asset. Rather than diminish the learners’ first language (also known as subtractive bilingualism), teachers are encouraging learners to use their own languages. This requires complex social and cognitive skills. In contrast, strict English-only classrooms are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Such linguistic diversity is celebrated in courses like the Family Skills Toolkit (Learning Unlimited Ltd) that encourages parents and carers of children learning English to see their bilingualism as a benefit.

Supporting learners of specific needs

As globalisation takes hold, 'glocalisation' (adapting an international product to match what people want in their particular country or culture) becomes necessary. The more we understand individual learners' needs, the more we can tailor our lessons to suit them. Ros Wright’s book Learning English: English for Health and Social Care Workers (Pavilion Publishing) provides learners not just with medical terms, but also knowledge of policies and procedures in the medical and care industry. Study Legal English – the world’s first legal English podcast includes online learning materials and quizzes to gamify learning.

However, catering to learners with specific needs does not only mean English for Specific Purposes (ESP). Imagine! (Silva Education Ltd) caters to Brazilian learners from low-income families. EAP for Syrian Academics Projects provides online EAP lessons and material support for Syrian academics exiled across Turkey. Supporting Learners with Dyslexia in the ELT classroom is a teacher resource providing teachers with both theory and practical ideas of how to ‘reach and teach’ students with dyslexia.

Creating and sharing content

While there’s much online content already out there for learners, some programmes and apps allow learners to produce their own content and share what they have created with others. Popular online sites like Quizizz and Socrative allow both teachers and students to create online games and play games that are shared by users from around the world. Websites like Canva allow teachers and learners to express their creativity through posters, social media memes and banners. Then there are mindmapping sites, comic-strip creation sites and movie-editing/movie-making sites.

Using content-creation tools like these allow learners to use language creatively, and turn language practice into a fun and engaging activity. ELTons finalist Brick by Brick (StandFor/ FTD Educaçāo) is one such course for younger learners that has them creating and embarking on hands-on projects as they learn.

Learning and teaching management platforms

Learning management platforms (LMSs) like Edmodo are increasingly popular. They give learners an online way to find handouts, continue classroom discussions and submit homework. Now, online platforms are also used to communicate with parents and other stakeholders, give teachers and administrators a better overview of the curriculum, and help manage lesson plans and materials.

The Royal ABC (Prosper Education Pte Ltd) curriculum for four-to-six year olds comes with a teacher platform that allows teachers to manage lesson planning, complete administration, schedule homework and report to parents. This gives teachers more time to work with children in the classroom.

These tools may appeal because they seem shiny and new. But the true value of innovations lies in how much they can help learners to become better communicators in English., and the extent to which they can help teachers encourage learners in the most efficient, motivating ways.

Afroza Akhter Tina
Senior Lecturer
Department of English, DIU

Second Language Acquisition / Five Stages of Second Language Acquisition
« on: October 21, 2018, 03:06:57 PM »
Five stages of second language acquisition

Proponents of second language acquisition theories, including Oliveri and Judie Haynes, another ESL teacher with 28 years of experience, identify five distinct stages of second language acquisition as originally espoused by linguist Stephen Krashen. These include the following:

1. Silent/receptive

This stage may last from several hours to several months, depending on the individual learner. During this time, new language learners typically spend time learning vocabulary and practice pronouncing new words. While they may engage in self-talk, they don’t normally speak the language with any fluency or real understanding.

This stage is controversial among language educators. Ana Lomba disagrees that second language learners are totally silent while they are in this first learning stage. Instead, Lomba states that “speech is fundamental in language acquisition” and learners excel in language acquisition when they apply what they learn as they learn it.

2. Early production

This stage may last about six months, during which language learners typically acquire an understanding of up to 1,000 words. They may also learn to speak some words and begin forming short phrases, even though they may not be grammatically correct.

3. Speech emergence

By this stage, learners typically acquire a vocabulary of up to 3,000 words, and learn to communicate by putting the words in short phrases, sentences, and questions. Again, they may not be grammatically correct, but this is an important stage during which learners gain greater comprehension and begin reading and writing in their second language.

4. Intermediate fluency

At this stage, which may last for a year or more after speech emergence, learners typically have a vocabulary of as many as 6,000 words. They usually acquire the ability to communicate in writing and speech using more complex sentences. This crucial stage is also when learners begin actually thinking in their second language, which helps them gain more proficiency in speaking it.

5. Continued language development/advanced fluency

It takes most learners at least two years to reach this stage, and then up to 10 years to achieve full mastery of the second language in all its complexities and nuances. Second language learners need ongoing opportunities to engage in discussions and express themselves in their new language, in order to maintain fluency in it.

The key to learning a new language and developing proficiency in speaking and writing that language is consistency and practice. A student must converse with others in the new language on a regular basis in order to grow their fluency and confidence. In addition, Haynes says it’s important for students to continue to work with a classroom teacher on specific content area related to the new language such as history, social studies and writing.

Afroza Akhter Tina
Senior Lecturer
Department of English, DIU

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